To many observers of public education, there is no doubt about which schools are failing - it's the schools with low rates of students passing state tests, stupid!Of course, this assumes that students' achievement is a direct measure of school quality. "Yet we know that this assumption is wrong....It follows that a valid system of school evaluation must separate school effects from nonschool effects on children's achievement and learning" writes Doug Downey, a cool Ohio State sociologist of education you should know, in his recent paper (in collaboration with Paul von Hippel and Melanie Hughes), "Are 'Failing' Schools ...


This morning, the Center for Education Policy in Washington, DC is issuing the latest in a series of state-level reports on the fate of schools restructuring under NCLB policy. Today’s report, authored by Brenda Neuman-Sheldon (a one-time student of skoolboy’s, but I hear that she’s back on solid food), examines restructuring schools in Maryland. In 2007-08, Maryland had 38 schools in restructuring planning, a huge increase over the four schools the preceding year, and 64 schools in restructuring implementation, a 7% decline from the preceding school year. The restructuring schools are concentrated in a small number of ...


This week's COWAbunga Award goes to two comments that explain why medicine and education have followed very different paths when it comes to accountability. The first comment is from eiela, a teacher librarian:I think the reason we don't want to inject the idea that student achievement is based partly on what [students] come to school with (parent support, poverty rates, etc.) into the NCLB debate is because it comes too close to admitting that our public education system doesn't help everyone equally. And that education does give everyone the same advantages is one of our cherished public ideals....We ...


1) Once Upon A School: Dave Eggers, author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, was awarded the TED Prize to help him fulfill this wish:I wish that you -- you personally and every creative individual and organization you know -- will find a way to directly engage with a public school in your area, and that you'll then tell the story of how you got involved, so that within a year we have 1,000 examples of innovative public-private partnerships.Now there's a website called "Once Upon A School" that's tracking project ideas for engaging in local schools. ...


skoolboy doesn’t fancy himself a particularly political creature, although some readers would likely argue that I’m kidding myself, in that blogging is an inherently political activity. In any event, I haven’t chosen to do a close analysis of the positions or proposed policies of the finalists in our Presidential derby. I’ll make a brief exception today, not to make political hay, but rather to try to illuminate an enduring sociological challenge. Yesterday, Barack Obama issued a new plan for school reform, emphasizing choice and innovation, investments in technology, enhanced college readiness, incentives for improved classroom teaching, ...


New AYP numbers are out, folks. In California, only 48% of schools made AYP, and only 34% of middle schools did so. In Missouri, only about 40% of schools made AYP. Pick almost any state, and you'll see that there are soaring numbers of schools designated as "in need of improvement." With numbers like these, it's worth considering whether NCLB's measurement apparatus is accurately identifying "failing schools."One way to get leverage on this question is to consider how other fields approach the issue of accountability. Doctor and hospital accountability for cardiac surgery - also the topic of a NYT ...


What bloggers need, Michael Bloomberg prophesied last year, is a "wake-up call." Joel Klein agreed: "If you're not making progress, if your [posts] are not moving forward, then I don't think the [blog] is doing well." Jim Liebman couldn't have agreed more: "“When you say, we’re going to hold you to the best that other [blogs] like you can do, all of a sudden, [there are] no more excuses."skoolboy, as you all already know, is that pesky curvebreaker in your calculus class. An A+ for you, skoolboy, and a hearty thanks for relieving me from blogging for my ...


Sometime soon, with great fanfare, the New York City Department of Education will release this year’s School Progress Reports. (Word on the street is that schools already know their grades.) The School Progress Reports, for better or worse, are the centerpiece of the NYC accountability system. (skoolboy thinks for worse, but more on that later.) The DOE has made a number of changes to the Progress Reports for this second iteration, and I think that eduwonkette had something to do with that (as did other critics and analysts outside of the Tweed inner circle.) We can expect to see ...


No, there's no convention commentary here (or else skoolboy would have to shoot himself). This week’s “Comment of the Week Award,” also known as the COWAbunga Award, goes to NYC Educator, for a comment on yesterday’s Coffee Talk question about which big-city school district is the worst-managed. NYC Educator wrote: I see the system in which I work on a daily basis, and I don't always see its reality reflected in the press--although they've made great strides over the last few years. Really, when you're a teacher and you find blatantly preposterous statements in the NY Times, you ...


Long-time followers of skoolboy (hi, Mom!) know that his first posts on eduwonkette’s blog were about class size. I argued for championing class size reduction as the right thing to do for children and for teachers—an argument grounded in the moral content of public schooling more so than in the technical consequences of class size reduction for standardized test scores. Over the past year, I’ve observed a number of trends in the operation of big-city school districts. I’ll use New York City as my key example, because it’s my hometown, but the issues are sufficiently ...


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